Hong Kong is to reopen bars, swimming pools, amusement parks, clubs and karaoke venues with restrictions from Friday onward, after at least two months of closure owing to the third wave of coronavirus infections. Tuesday marks the first day since early July that the city reported zero local cases.

HKFP_Live: Chief Exec. Carrie Lam is announcing a relaxing of #Covid19 social distancing measures, with pools and bars set to reopen.

Posted by Hong Kong Free Press HKFP on Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Restaurant opening hours will also be extended from 10 pm to midnight. The measures will remain in place for seven days.

“I hope this indicates that the third wave is under control and Hong Kong people can resume their normal, daily activities and schools, as well as commercial activities, can resume,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a press conference on Tuesday. “But we should not let our guard down. We should adhere to various anti-epidemic measures and the government will react quickly if something happens.”

The ban on group gatherings of more than four people and mandatory public mask-wearing will remain in place.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department closes beaches in light of the new wave of coronavirus epidemic. Photo: GovHK.

The announcement followed another round of relaxations last week, with the public group gathering limit raised from two to four and most sports, as well as some entertainment facilities allowed to reopen.

Small and medium businesses have struggled to cope with the partial lockdown and industry groups have lobbied the government to ease anti-epidemic measures.

Hong Kong saw a surge in the number of untraceable local Covid-19 infections between June and August, prompting authorities to impose some of the strictest social distancing measures since the start of the outbreak. Health authorities have recorded 4,971 cases and 101 related deaths as of Monday. Local media reported that four additional cases will be announced later.

Separately, the city’s leader revealed at an earlier press conference that 1,783,000 people had participated in the voluntary universal community testing programme between September 1-14: “I would like to thank everyone for their contribution to the success of this programme,” she said, adding it could not be achieved without the help of central authorities. Pro-democracy lawmakers and district councillors have questioned the programme’s protection of personal data.

First detected in the Chinese city Wuhan, Covid-19 has infected nearly 30 million people and led to almost one million deaths since at least last December, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

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Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.